Associate Professor

Contact InformationBoxin Zhao

Phone: 519-888-4567 x38666
Location: E6 2012


Biography Summary

Boxin Zhao is a Chemical Engineering Associate Professor and a member of the Waterloo Institute of Nanotechnology at the University of Waterloo.

His research focuses on biomimicry, which involves biological systems such as lotus leaves, gecko adhesive pads, mussel adhesive plaque and biofilms. Professor Zhao is particularly interested in the adhesion phenomena at the micro and nano scale and the implication that this has on chemical, mechanical and biomedical applications.

Effective adhesion between similar or dissimilar material components has become one of the most critical prerequisites for advanced manufacturing at ever-smaller scales. As a result, Professor Zhao is concentrating on the optimization of polymer characteristics. Due to its long-chain structure, allowing it to absorb a large amount of mechanical energy, polymers can be readily filled with components such as nanoparticles and nanowires.

Professor Zhao is currently leading a Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada Strategic Project. The project aims to develop a robust polymer that sticks to nearly any surface. The material actually conducts and transfers electrical current, unlike conventional glues and plastics that generally insulate. The polymer will highly benefit the electronics manufacturing industry, as it has the potential to eliminate the use of the toxic metal solder that is currently used in electronic devices.

Professor Zhao is also studying reversible adhesive properties of gecko footpads. He has conducted theoretical and experimental investigation into the adhesion and friction forces that characterize the gecko’s foot hairs and developed a Johnson-Kendall-Roberts friction model to interpret the dynamic behaviour. This biomimetic research has applications in biomedicine as the adhesive can be used as an alternative to stitches, as well as a reconstructive material to reduce scarring when treating burn and cancer patients.

Research Interests

  • Surface science and bionanomaterials
  • Adhesives and coatings
  • Biomimetic micro and nano fabrication
  • Nanotechnology
  • Biomechanics
  • Biolubrication
  • Polymer Science
  • Hydrogels
  • Interfacial Phenomena
  • Colloids & Porous Media
  • Micro- and nano-tribology
  • Bionanomaterials
  • Soft Interfaces
  • Biomimetic Adhesion
  • Bio-integrated Devices
  • Nanoparticles synthesis
  • Interfacial materials engineering
  • Biomimicry
  • Biomimetic materials and devices
  • Multifunctional polymers and nanocomposites
  • Biopolymer and healthcare materials
  • Advanced coating and adhesive bonding technology
  • Additive Manufacturing
  • Nanotechnology


  • 2004, Doctorate, Chemical Engineering, McMaster University
  • 1999, Master's, Institute of Chemical Metallurgy, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing
  • 1996, Bachelor's, Mineral Engineering, Central South University


  • CHE 101 - Chemical Engineering Concepts 2
    • Taught in 2014, 2015
  • CHE 755 - Res Topics in Electrochemical Engineering, Interfacial Eng & Material Science
    • Taught in 2014, 2016, 2017
  • CHE 100 - Chemical Engineering Concepts 1
    • Taught in 2016, 2017, 2018
  • CHE 313 - Applications of Heat and Mass Transfer
    • Taught in 2016, 2017, 2018
  • CHE 612 - Interfacial Phenomena
    • Taught in 2014, 2015, 2017, 2018
* Only courses taught in the past 5 years are displayed.

Selected/Recent Publications

  • Si, Pengxiang and Trinidad, Josh and Chen, Li and Lee, Brenda and Chen, Alex and Persic, John and Lyn, Robert and Leonenko, Zoya and Zhao, Boxin, PEDOT: PSS nano-gels for highly electrically conductive silver/epoxy composite adhesives, Journal of Materials Science: Materials in Electronics, 29(3), 2018, 1837 - 1846
  • Pan, Zihe and Cheng, Fangqin and Zhao, Boxin, Bio-Inspired Polymeric Structures with Special Wettability and Their Applications: An Overview, Polymers, 9(12), 2017
  • d’Eon, Jeffrey and Zhang, Wei and Chen, Li and Berry, Richard M and Zhao, Boxin, Coating cellulose nanocrystals on polypropylene and its film adhesion and mechanical properties, Cellulose, 24(4), 2017, 1877 - 1888
  • McDonald, Brendan and Patel, Poonam and Zhao, Boxin, Droplet freezing and ice adhesion strength measurement on super-cooled hydrophobic surfaces, The Journal of Adhesion, 93(5), 2017, 375 - 388
  • Shahsavan, Hamed and Yu, Li and Jákli, Antal and Zhao, Boxin, Smart biomimetic micro/nanostructures based on liquid crystal elastomers and networks, Soft matter, 13(44), 2017, 8006 - 8022